Monday, January 21, 2008

King Holiday

I lied to my boss the other day.

He asked me who I liked in the upcoming election and I just know he wanted me to say Obama and I know that's what he expected me to say. Anyone who has been at this blog for two seconds knows that I have, let's say, very strong political opinions. But my bosses don't know about my blog and I have no intention of telling them either.

My boss is white. Sweet, young, kind and I'm quite sure, when he asked his question, curious about "what black people think". I could have gone there, but it would have been wrong to do so. What I think is exactly that - what I think. But I know that I am probably one of the few black people the white folks in my office come in contact with on a daily basis. I cannot and will not be responsible for them relegating all of "black community" thought to my one opinion.

Then again, my answer was as much to avoid putting him on the spot as anything else, like the reaction that blog pal The Skeptic One came across:
Some of my white friends are telling me Obama can’t and won’t be elected president. Their reasoning is simple, America is still too racist to seriously consider a black man for the white house.

My question to them is...”does this mean you’re not voting for him either?” At which point they are horrified that I’ve alluded to the fact that they, too, might be too racist to vote for a black man.
So, in the few seconds between his blunt question and my neutral answer, I decided something. I will never, ever discuss politics with the white people I work for and with. I like them; they are very kind and not in a condescending, "let's be kind to a black person this week" way either. But I simply cannot and will not discuss politics with them. I just don't think they could handle what I'd have to say. It's best if they go on thinking I'm their slightly ditzy admin who can barely work the comb binder than that I actually have a brain that spans the depth and breadth of the current political scene.

So what did I tell him? "None of the above," which in my logic, is sort of what I like to think of as a "true lie".

I truly don't like any of the GOP candidates including that patron saint of torture John McCain. I know there are some other Dems running besides Edwards, H. Clinton and Obama, but honestly, I can't think of any of their names. (Note to self: time to research a blog post on the Dems like my previous one on the Repubs.) I don't think Edwards stands a chance despite him being quite deserving. I heard someone say this past weekend, "the fix is in for Hillary", and I'm inclined to believe the cynacism of that statement.

But truthfully, I absolutely believe that Obama is the best candidate. I have my reservations about Barack but they all have to do with the viability of the candidacy, not exactly the candidate himself. The answer to that "Is White America ready for a Black President" question is, sadly, 'No.' Oh, I know, they never put the white in there, but they may as well. You may even be able to hoodwink some black folks into believing that Obama isn't the best guy running, or that they shouldn't vote for him "just because he's black" but you can be damned sure that there are many people in this country who aren't going to vote for him that same reason. As far as I'm concerned, that he's black isn't the only reason to give him my vote, but it is as good a reason as any other.

And so, today, is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Day. There are times when I feel a certain disconnect from the black community - but then I realize that the fictional "black community" was made up by the "mainstream" media and I don't feel so bad.

The progression of the King Holiday is startling to me. When I was a child, we did what all black folks did on holidays back then: You went to church and thanked God for having a day off. After a while, most folks figured, let's have a shorter church service and a family reunion after. And for the longest time, black people got together on King holiday for a sort of mid-winter Fourth of July.

Every now and again, someone will inevitably try to pull of a Serious Symbolic Re-enactment March. I have an American's knowledge of history so I can't tell you what the date was, but I've seen films of the March on Washington and not one person is wearing a coat. Dr. King had more sense than to try and pull of a Civil Rights version of Valley Forge.

I remember a few comedians saying that King Holiday wouldn't be a real holiday until there were King Day sales. Well, it's official then. According to via Yahoo Answers, the following stores are officiallyhaving MLK Day Sales: Dell, Best Buy, Circuit City, Staples, Sears, Kohls, K-Mart and Toys R Us. I'm inclined to agree with this post at Yahoo Answers.
...having a sale on MLK Day is sort of like having a 9/11 Sale. It is decidely crass and completely NOT what the Dr. King Holiday is supposed to be about.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday should be a national day of celebration for peace, harmony and remembrance of the Civil Rights struggle. It should not be just another day to have a "white sale".
My hometown's monument to slavery, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is touting free admission all day and lot's of activities. There's also a double header basketball tournament. Several church celebrations and the like.

Ah well, at least part of Dr. King's vision came true. Black children and white children have all come together in a collective sigh of relief that they have a day off from school.

But I'm off to work.

Monday, January 14, 2008

50 Years Each

I will not lie, I was pissed. Very angry. I mean really, what kind of degenerate fucktard robs little kids, much less Boy Scouts selling Christmas Trees? And it happened in MY neighborhood, less than a few blocks from where I send my daughter to school every day.

"Put 'em under the jail," I railed to Ye Old Matey who ignored my rant but vaguely nodded in agreement.

"If they get caught, it's over for them."

"Well, they deserve what they get. Robbing little kids...idiots..."

I'm watching TV the other day and these three young men, young black men, their mugshots splashed across the screen - two are 19, the other is 20. Less than a full decade older than the kids they robbed. Legally they are men. Their smooth faces and skinny frames are those of teenagers

They are guilty as hell and they look it. And I'm thinking, they need help. Somebody really needs to show these stupid, stupid, boys where they went wrong - how what they did was wrong and how they can need a better life.

But it is not to be. They have thrown their lives away and we are more than willing to throw them into the garbage can of jail.

Joe Deters had his moment to talk tough and who will argue with him?

"When this happened I stated at that time they better pray to God we don’t find out who they are," said Deters. "Now we know and they will pay the price."I heard him say on TV the other day. The Cincinnati Enquirer records this quote in an editorial here.

[Deters] adds, "They're a bunch of thugs. I mean, who would put a shotgun in a
little kid's face and punch a boy scout. Robbing them while there's a gun in their faces, that takes a whole lot of bravery."

...the Hamilton County Prosecutor says he'll show no mercy for the three suspects who held shotguns in the faces of young scouts and their parents.

I can only heave a heavy sigh. How those boys got to the point of armed robbery is beyond me. And society is all too willing to write off young black males as hopeless thugs beyond redemption. Everyone will write off my empathy for their plight as being "soft on crime" or "because they're black" but anyone who thinks that their race has nothing to do with our willingness to toss these boys aside like so much chaff, must think again.

I worry that we are more concerned about punishment than about making sure these very young people, who have the time, to actually do something good with their lives, if we could only intervene. Surely, no one has up until now.

They face up to 50 years each. Ye Old Matey, who has worked in corrections says it will probably end up about 25 years but the way Joe Deters is talking, these young men will be old men before they can even consider freedom and what that entails.

There lives are over and they hadn't really begun. Too bad they didn't become Boy Scouts instead.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Why NONE of the Republican Candidates Should Be President

My take on each candidate in brief.
(Clicking on each candidate's strip will take you to a larger version of their montage. )

John McCain
Simply not the worst of all 7 GOP guys who really suck

Just when I was thinking that he looks like a baby seal that got clubbed - well, I found out, he pretty much was. John McCain has overpaid his dues for America. From Wikipedia:
"Participating in the Vietnam War, he narrowly escaped death during the 1967
Forrestal fire. On his 23rd bombing mission over North Vietnam later in 1967, he
was shot down and badly injured. He endured five and a half years as a prisoner
of war, including periods of torture, before he was released following the Paris
Peace Accords in 1973."
Damn. That is terrifyingly impressive and just reading that paragraph starts the Battle Hymn of the Republic playing in my mind's soundtrack. Despite being tortured himself, he doesn't seem to have learned much from the experience though. That "Do Unto Others" doesn't end "as others have done unto you":
McCain...negotiated (in September 2006) a compromise in the Senate for the
Military Commissions Act of 2006, suspending habeas corpus provisions for anyone deemed by the Executive Branch an "unlawful combatant"...permit[ting] the President to establish permissible interrogation techniques and to "interpret
the meaning and application" of international Geneva Convention standards...

Widely dubbed McCain's "torture compromise", the bill was signed into
law by George W. Bush on October 17, 2006, shortly before the 2006 midterm
elections. However George W. Bush appended a signing statement in which he went back on his word and rejected the compromise.
I can only quote a Bushism on this one: "Fool me once, shame on....shame Fool me once - can't get fooled again."

Rudy Giuliani
9/11 abuse, should be imprisoned at Ground Zero for all eternity

It takes Jon Stewart (skip ahead to point 3:58) to explain in full, funny graphic detail detail why Rudy Giuliani using the tragedy of September 11, 2001 as a campaign ploy is not only shameful but also gives Giuliani no play with voters. Unfortunately, that is not why the ultra-conservative, staunch Bush supporter has been at the bottom of the primary elections. He's not seen as "religious" enough by the ever rising Evangelical crowd (uh, those cross dressing pics, duh) and he's definitely persona non grata to any self-respecting progressive.

Oh and 9/11 to you to.

Mike Huckabee
Theocratic Bush supporter - Crusades 2009 anyone?

Mike Huckabee scared the bejesus out of me by winning Iowa. First of all, I just can't imagine actually having say "President Huckabee" for four to eight years. Huckabee is a name for a vice president, not a president. Although the man isn't responsible for that hideous name, he is responsible for his hideous politics.

Thinking about Huckabee as a President? I've got two words for you: Bill Gothard. Actually, let me give you two more: Ted Haggard.

Like Bush, Huckabee is courting hardcore Evangelicals left and right. Unlike Bush, Huckabee is a firm believer in the Evangelical cause: reshaping America in the image of the Evangelical version of a Christian nation. Even for a firm believer in Jesus like me, this is cause for alarm. The Bible is interpreted many different ways by many different people.

These folks believe they have the one ture way of interpreting the bible - and their way is the most strict, severe, fire and brimstone, God's Wrath way of explaining things. All that stuff about love and the meek inheriting the Earth and Jesus actually getting the death penalty for speaking Truth to the power of his day? Nah. That's liberal commie talk.

Huckabee = Theocracy and this is bad because, I hate to break it to some folks, but Christianity is NOT the only religion practiced in America and even all the Christians don't agree on exactly how Christianity should be practiced.

Mitt Romney
Godless Bush Supporter, Voldemort in a better package

(LOL) Obviously, I am not the only person who thinks Romney and Voldemort have a bit in common.

Mitt Romney has shown that he is willing to do the religion thing if it will get him a seat in the Oval Office. Even scarier, he will walk the walk and talk the talk if people will see him as the guy with great hair who at least looks and acts like the Perfect White American President.

The above photo montage of Romney is a story by itself. It's depicts my worst fears about how people are, quite literally, groomed for the office of President. The first picture is suitably presidential but someone obviously had a different Romney in mind. By the end, that younger, slimmer guy with the kilowatt smile is a much changed from the guy in the beginning. I think I liked the first guy better. Can you even believe Guy #1 and Guy #7 is the same guy? If the eyes are the window to the soul, guy #2 is scary. Yet all of them are Mitt Romney.

And then there's the final product and drat him for being so darned handsome. But all Potter fans know that ugly Voldemort was once a very handsome and charming Tom Riddle. Romney firmly believes that there should be NO LIMITS to Presidential power. Sound familiar? Best quote I've ever read on Romney came from this article: "Romney isn’t running to be President, but to be King."

Fred Thompson
Bush/ Cheney supporter with hound dog eyes

To lazy to run a full out campain, too smart not to run at all.

Fred Thompson, actor/ politician, fooled me for the longest time. I actually thought he had a look alike in Hollywood that they pulled out whenever they wanted someone who "looked like that Senator guy." When I finally realized the actor and the senator were the same guy, well, color me surprised.

Oddly enough, I believe Fred Thompson would be a good President if he weren't so damned conservative. I mean, he pulls out all the stops on conservatism. That folksy, good old boy charm that white folks love scares the hell out of black folks. Good old boys don't ever seem to understand the issues of minorities, immigrants, women or hell anyone that isn't a Good Old Boy. If we picked a president on brains alone, Thompson would be a good choice but a President should be smart and human.

The thing that bugs me the most is that in most of his roles, he's playing a politician of some sort. Like Romney, he obviously looks the part he intends to play, even to the point of playing himself. At least in most movies, he has another name and, depending on your point of view, another persona.

But what about this 2005 movie Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World. On the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) there are two sections under Sen. Fred Dalton Thompson - one for where he plays a character and another where he appears as himself - as on talk shows and such. Well for this particular movie, the character's name is - you guessed it - Senator Fred Dalton Thompson. The basic premise of the movie (from IMDb):
"The American senate, in order to improve its fast declining global image, asks
comedian Albert Brooks to write a 500 page document about what makes Muslims laugh in India and Pakistan."
Hard to wrap your mind around that one isn't it? I think we all need to know who we would be getting as President - former Senator Fred Thompson or actor Fred Dalton Thompson. I only wish that was the only doubt I had regarding a possible Thompson presidency.

Ron Paul
WhoTF is this guy and why is he running for president?
For the longest time, I had no idea who this guy was. Then I saw him on CSpan one day and I sat and listened to what he had to say.

Ron Paul reminds me of all those people - black, white and every hue in between - who rush to the suburbs thinking that crime and "uncivilized" people won't follow right behind them. They pull down the shades of their pristine suburban McMansion and are surprised, when they finally submerge from the isolation of their surround sound home theaters, that the world they thought they left behind is right at their front door.

Ron Paul advocates all sorts of things that seem wonderful- at first: Withdrawal from the Iraq War, opposes NAFTA and even personal income tax "which he says assumes that the government owns individuals' lives and labor".

However, he also advocates U.S. withdrawal from the World Trade Organization and from The United Nations and he voted for the Secure Fence Act - which would put a double layer fence between Mexico and the US (but not, please note, between the US and Canada - can you say subtle racism boys and girls?).

The United States can't just put up literal and metaphorical fences and ignore the rest of the planet. Isolationism doesn't keep the world out, it keeps us locked in - physically and mentally. Don't fence me in with this guy.

Duncan Hunter
Tancredo come lately

I know. At least you'd kind of sort of heard of Ron Paul. And even the name Tancredo rings a bell (Tom Tancredo was running as a GOP guy, but dropped out of the race this past December.) But you probably think I'm joking when I say a guy named Duncan Hunter is running for president don't you?

Well, he's in the race, but honestly, I have not seen him in an interview, and just got around to reading about him to finish up this article. As far as I'm concerned, this Johnny-come-lately is a day late and a dollar short.

Oh, and if you're one of those - "It all comes down to abortion" type people well this is where he stands on that issue (welcome back to the dark ages women):
"I would amend the U.S. Constitution and provide blanket protection to all unborn
children from the moment of conception by prohibiting any state or federal law
that denies the personhood of the unborn. Likewise, I have also introduced the
Right to Life Act, which would legally define “personhood” as the moment of
conception and, therefore, guarantee all constitutional rights and protections,
including life, to the unborn without utilizing a constitutional amendment."
With that hardline stance I don't think he has an iota of a chance. Not to mention it was hard to find a picture of this guy where he looked pleasant, even on his own site, let alone a picture where he had a full smile. I understand wanting to look presidential, but there is such a thing as going to far. That center picture is only missing a "Mission Accomplished" banner.

I think I'll give this guy a pass.

Well, anyone of these guys, heaven forbid, could be president. But I don't think things will be much different than the Bush/Cheney years with any of them and in some cases, things would be much worse if you can imagine such a thing.

America deserves better.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Hillary Wins New Hampshire

This post is more about Obama than Hillary

And the MSM breaths a sigh of relief. Tim Russert was positively beaming this morning, all was right with the world, all the courses back in their proper sphere. Hillary bashing can continue unabated and Obama - well he was just the bad dream America has woken up from. No black president this year. Russert's relief was palpable through the screen.

Well, I guess that does it for Obama. Iowa was a nice gesture on behalf of white folks everywhere - you won't find me unappreciative. We may not have overcome but the fact that America is even willing to entertain the notion of a Black President - well damn, I'm touched, I really am.

I take issue with one reporters labeling Iowa, "The Whitest of White States." Little known fact - I was born in Ottumwa, Iowa and I still have family there. Seems to me the stories of the worst and most blatant racism still come from the South with New Orleans, Louisianna seeming to be some sort of testing ground for a comeback of old style racism. The whole Hurricane Katrina fiasco is it's own racial boilling pot, but it's as if the Hurricane is bringing to light a host of other issues that may not have gotten noticed otherwise.

Black kids being forced to sit in the back of the school bus.
Man getting beat by cops
- gets charged with public intoxication - too bad he doesn't drink
New Orleans cops pepper spraying protesters fighting for the right to housing at a City Council Meeting

But back to Obama. Why do I say it's the end of his presdential hopes? Well, because as a black man, I think he would have to do the impossible - sweep every single primary in order to have a ghost of a chance. Black people always have to be the best by a country mile and prove it by two country miles. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Obama is positively the best candidate out of all the Democratic and Republican candidates in the running. It's just I don't think any failure, even of a single primary, and even by the slim margin he lost by, will be allowed to pass.

And then there was his victory speech in Iowa. Obama was fine as long he's talking tough on foreign policy, the politics of change and hope, a better economy, healthcare for everyone, liberty and justice for all.

But then he said the magic words that, despite the cheers it garnered, I'm sure must have had some white folks shaking their heads - maybe even shaking in their boots:

"Hope is what led a band of colonists to rise up against an empire. What led the greatest of generations to free a continent and heal a nation. What led young women and young men to sit at lunch counters and brave fire hoses and march through Selma and Montgomery for freedom's causeHope is what led a band of colonists to rise up against an empire. What led the greatest of generations to free a continent and heal a nation. What led young women and young men to sit at lunch counters and brave fire hoses and march through Selma and Montgomery for freedom's cause."
And the minute I heard this part of his speech, it brought tears to my eyes, I will not lie. But I also thought - White America does not want to be reminded of this - ever. The penalty for this reminder, even in one line of a victory speech about hope, may be that he will lose the entire race.

And so, Hillary wins New Hampshire, along with McCain on the Republican side - and Obama, I'm sure will continue this fight.

I only hope he can still win.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Obama Wins Iowa

This post is less about Obama and more about me and the N-word

So my daughter comes in to my room last night and says, arms raised in victory, "Obama won Iowa!"

I wish I could say I was shocked into being a potty mouth but my response, "You're shittin' me?"

And she, her brown eyes wide, hopeful and happy - "Nope! Isn't it wonderful?"

"It is absolutely wonderful!" And she dances back off to bed.

And I mumble under my breath - "Damn, that niggah might be president after all."

And then I am mildly shocked at my own weary vulgarity and that I, of all people, have called the potential president of the United states the N word.

Oh, yes, I say it occasionally. Like that time the Bengals got intercepted and the offense suddenly became the defense and I'm screaming, "Get that NIGGAH!" who's running with the ball like he stole something. And Ye Old Matey was on the phone with his white friend who heard me and was patently shocked, I tell you shocked. I think he said something to Matey like, "She's very excited isn't she," and Matey was like, "Yep," and kept on rolling. I should have been embarrassed, but I wasn't.

And I am still capable of looking Ye Old Matey, straight in the eye on occasion and saying, "Negro, please," when he has gone completely and entirely too far.

I worked at a school for a while and I wish I could say that it bothered me when the kids called each other "Niggah" but honestly, it didn't. I would stare at them in amazement that kids still said that - I remembered back in my school daze when we tossed that word around like pop rocks buzzing in your mouth - and they would think I was offended and quickly apologize - it was all I could do not to say, ah, that's ok. We were under mandate to discourage use of the word whenever we heard it and I didn't want to become known as the one adult it was ok to say that word around.

So this beggars the question - by using that word in relation to Obama, do I somehow see him as less than the other candidates? And the answer, I think, makes all the difference.

No. I am a staunch Obama supporter (switched from Hillary the minute he decided to run). I see the hope in him he wishes to convey to America - not just to black people - but to all people. That America and this world can be different if viewed through different eyes. I think of his wife coming to visit him in the oval office and the pitter patter of his girls' feet in the White House halls - and something in my heart expands

What white folks don't understand is that while the N word for them, is a word of exclusion, for us, it's a word of inclusion. Me saying what I said and some white guy saying, "Can you believe there might be a nigger in the White House?- and yes, I have read those very words on these here Internets - well sweetie, the difference between what I said and what they said - child, those two concepts are worlds apart.

Even so, because that word is a bit tired and can be so fraught with misunderstanding - I suppose it's best to use it less or not at all. 'Cuz let a white person say it to me now and I'm liable to slap the taste out of someone's mouth.

I guess it really does't have a place anymore. Even when I'm tired and ill and tucked into bed - no matter my reason or turn of phrase or expression - even though what it means for Me isn't the same as what it means for Them -no matter that I am able to feel that way and not feel one bit hypocritical -

I suppose I should stop saying it. Yes, even alone, all by myself.